Advice for Do-It-Yourselfers--How to Fix Leaky Toilets

Advice for Do-It-Yourselfers--How to Fix Leaky Toilets

If you have a leaky toilet you are probably spending a lot more money on your water bill than you need to. Even a small leak in a toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water. If you have basic plumbing experience you might be able to fix the leak yourself. Following is information to help you troubleshoot a leak and suggestions of basic solutions.

Conduct a Simple Test to Detect a Leak

There is a simple test you can conduct that will let you know if you have a problem that needs further exploring:

  • Put a few drops of red, blue, or green food coloring into the toilet tank.
  • Mix up the water so the food coloring is spread evenly in the water.
  • Do not flush the toilet for an hour.
  • After an hour has passed, look at the toilet bowl.
  • If the food coloring appears in the bowl you have a leak.

Troubleshoot the Cause of the Leak

To find the cause of the toilet leak, take the lid off the tank. Flush the toilet a few times and watch the flushing mechanisms while the water empties and refills. Look for the following problems:

  • Does the flapper valve drop into place correctly?
  • Does the flapper valve stay in place when the water is filling the tank, or does it shift or get sucked into the hole?
  • Does the chain catch on any parts of the flushing assembly?
  • Does the float rise smoothly and easily?
  • Does the water shut off before it reaches the top of the overflow pipe?
  • Are minerals built up on the flapper, float, or valve?

Fix the Problem

Once you have identified the problem you can take the steps necessary to correct it. Following is a list of basic fixes you can try:

  • Replace the flapper or flapper valve.
  • Adjust the float either up or down to change the water level
  • Wipe off minerals that have accumulated.
  • Put a plastic straw around the chain to keep it from catching on other parts.

Call for Help When Necessary

When working on a toilet, remember that the parts are delicate. Do not bend or force them to move. Doing so could cause them to break and leave you with a bigger problem than when you started. If you reach a point where you are not sure what to do next, it is best to leave it alone and call a plumber. In the long run it may be less expensive to call Roto-Rooter to fix the problem in the beginning rather than calling us for an emergency repair.


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